The Chatham’s Experience
Our intrepid explorers
After an intro from Keith, Simon shared our Papanui Club member’s experiences from their recent visit to the Chatham Islands accompanied by the excellent range of pictures he took that showed the range of scenery, wildlife and activities they were involved in and the variation & starkness of the landscape that included references to a hand trained Weka, remains of planes and the ruggedness of life there.
“We almost didn’t land”, started Simon, as the cross wind was close to the maximum allowable but luckily they did touch down and so their journey began.
The Waitangi Wharf
The pictures of trees at varied locations showed then to mostly be quite deformed and small as they often have to grow at unusual ankles to survive the rugged weather. While some beaches showed quite geometric rock formations, many of them were also rugged but the group noticed that the seals seemed happy enough with their lot.
Our accommodation at Waitangi
While there is some power available, be it very expensive, there are also quite a few residents that live off the grid and use diesel to generate power when needed.  As most items need to be brought in, shopping can also be a challenge with some residents ordering up to six months’ worth at a time.
An 1860's stone cottage
“Only a small amount of road is sealed”, continued Simon, “with the majority being gravel as they are mostly on private land”.  Cars are unwarranted and unregistered and the cost of bringing a car over by ship is $6,000. 
Weather during the trip was often cloudy but they did occasionally get some sun.  They also visited the statue of Tommy Solomon, the last of the full blooded Moriori, plus ancient carvings on the trees in the centre of the island.
One of the highlights was finding up to 150 million year old sharks’ teeth on the beaches at the lagoon.  Other experiences including visiting and viewing a range of old buildings and also getting to see a few places where hardy residents were living off the land with few facilities that we take for granted.
Honey farm which produces freeze dried honey
Other interesting experiences included visiting a honey farm.  The Freeze Drying is done in New Zealand, but the honey is produced on the Chathams. A unique blend of both native and imported fauna, Chatham Islands Honey is a partner in this venture which produces a distinctive taste.
We also enjoyed an interesting day with the Jockey Club where, despite a small number of horses being available, both gallops and trots were run.  A visit to the Moriori Kopinga Marae was also a highlight with the building looking like a bird in flight from the air.
The Kopinga Marae
The group found the overall atmosphere on the Chathams to be very laid back in general and they bring back a wide range of memories from the varied and interesting sights, animal life, landscapes’, ruggedness and from the conversations they experienced with many of the locals.
We will also be looking for a suitable project on the Chathams we can support  in the future.